Traditional SUVs offer many advantages, including lots of passenger and cargo space, high towing capacity, the ability to handle rough weather and road conditions, and appealingly rugged styling. One weakness associated with SUVs, though, has always been fuel economy. SUV drivers are accustomed to paying more at the pump than their car driving counterparts. Thanks to the emerging hybrid SUV segment, however, this is beginning to change.
Hybrid SUVs combine a conventional gasoline or diesel power train with an electric motor. This allows for dramatically improved fuel economy and reduced emissions without the significant downsides (limited range and reduced power) of electric-only vehicles. While hybrid SUVs typically have a higher starting msrp than their non-hybrid equivalents, the money you will save on fuel over the life of the vehicle makes them a compelling choice in today’s world of climbing gas prices.
What Hybrid SUVs are Currently Available?
Auto makers have responded to the high demand for hybrid SUVs with a wide range of different models. From compact to very large and from economical to luxurious, there is a hybrid SUV for sale or in the works to suit nearly every taste.
For those seeking a full size, truck-based SUV, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is a strong choice. Featuring all the roominess, power, and hauling ability that has made the regular Tahoe a perennial favorite with large SUV buyers, it also offers a much improved 21 mpg city hwy combined rating. For those looking for an extra dose of style and exclusivity, the mechanically similar Cadillac Escalade Hybrid brings together luxurious appointments and a relatively frugal EPA estimated mpg.
What can Hybrid SUV Buyers Look Forward to in the Near Future?
Compact and midsize SUVs are also a great match for hybrid technology. The upcoming Mitsubishi PX-MiEV plug-in hybrid, scheduled for release in 2013, provides an exciting glimpse at what hybrid SUV buyers can expect to find in the next few years.
The PX-MiEV is able to operate in three different modes – all-electric, engine-to-battery charging, or engine-to-wheels power, depending on the driving situation and battery charge levels. Mitsubishi claims the vehicle could achieve up to 120 combined mpg! Clearly, the days of having to choose between either size and utility on the one hand or efficiency and environmental responsibility on the other are coming to a close.
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